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Mayview site owners want to dig for coal

| Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, 12:04 a.m.

The owners of the former Mayview State Hospital property are again seeking permission to mine the coal remaining beneath part of the 158-acre campus, arguing before the South Fayette Zoning Hearing Board Wednesday night.

Duquesne Heights-based Aloe Brothers LLC is applying for permission to do what attorney William Sittig Jr. called “incidental mining” to remove the coal under the eastern 37 acres of the site before it is backfilled and redeveloped as an office park.

The zoning board turned down a similar request in March.

“It's quite unique in that there's a solid bed of coal beneath this 37-acre tract,” said landscape architect Steven Victor, testifying for the applicants. “It's too close to the surface to go in and do traditional deep mining.”

Victor and mining engineer Sean Isgan described the mining process, which would involve about two bulldozers, trucks and a front-end loader digging pits to remove the soil down to what Victor said is a 12-foot-thick portion of the Pittsburgh Seam.

Isgan noted that there would be some noise and vibrations from blasting, which would take place about twice a week. Each pit would be refilled with soil as crews moved to the next, leaving the site ready for development.

Sittig said that from the township's perspective, the coal removal would be covered under the developers' permit for grading the site, though they would have to file for a coal removal permit from the Department of Environmental Protection and abide by that agency's rules for protecting the surrounding woods and wetlands.

The site has been cleared of almost all the former hospital buildings. At the edge of South Fayette bordering Upper St. Clair, it is partially surrounded by South Fayette's Fairview Park and Upper St. Clair's Boyce Mayview Park.

Sittig said the township's zoning regulations for the site were improper, since its current business zoning was the only kind in the township that did not allow incidental coal removal.

About 30 people attended the meeting, The board voted to continue the hearing until Oct. 2.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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